Taking the First Step to Improve Missouri’s Toxic Legal Climate #momiracle

St. Louis, Missouri is now getting national recognition as the number one “judicial hellhole” in the country. The Legislature has been working for years to change that characterization, and this week the Senate took another step to backfill that hole.

For the past few years, the Senate has worked many long days and nights trying to repair the damage done by some jurisdictions in the state where judges in civil cases apply laws in an unfair and unbalanced manner. A Bloomberg Businessweek article even said Missouri had a “reputation for fast trials, favorable rulings, and big awards.” Last session, we passed a bill related to the collateral source rule which Gov. Nixon later vetoed. The measure would have allowed parties to introduce evidence of the actual cost of medical care rendered in personal injury cases rather than some contrived “value.” That bill would have helped restore fairness to personal injury litigation.

The good news is, we have been given a second chance. This week, the Senate debated an identical bill, Senate Bill 31, on the Senate Floor. Juries don’t always see the actual cost plaintiffs’ paid. They only see the “value”, and in return, grant “phantom damages”. Senate Bill 31 repairs that by simply establishing that the appropriate recovery for medical expenses is the amount that was actually paid for those medical expenses rather than some fantasy number that was neither billed nor paid.

Tort reform like that in Senate Bill 31 is a critical component of improving Missouri’s economic development potential. When funds are unjustly shifted away from the business community, growth is shifted away from the economy. Tort reforms can have positive impacts not only on our legal system, but in our communities as well. It’s time to fill the hole and get rid of the broken system that is hurting our families and communities. Missouri has a lot to offer. Now we are making the changes necessary to welcome investment back into the Show-Me State.

Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar

District 31